For some, ignorance is bliss, for others, ignorance is something…
(MENAFN – The Conversation)
Is ignorance really bliss? Or is it destructive? What role does it play in our daily life? What damage can it cause or leave behind?
These are just some of the questions that my colleagues and I are investigating in our ongoing research on agnosis.
Agnosis means without or without knowledge. Agnotology is the study of ignorance, apathy toward knowledge, and the creation of non-knowledge and stupidity.
Unfortunately, many examples suggest that ignorance continues to be a concern in Canada.
Often victims of ignorance are unaware, or at least unsure, of the source of their harm – and sometimes they are not even aware that they have been harmed.
“Ignore” as an activity
Individuals, organizations and governments can all participate in ‘ignorance’ as an activity. When information is not sought out – in other words, ignored – it can provide motivation and excuses for committing even the most harmful actions.
For example, we continue to experience global events that suggest many Canadians are “blind” to the harm they can cause when they ignore the science and public health measures needed to combat COVID-19. .
Too often, marginalized and immunocompromised communities face the weight of these choices. By ignoring science and believing in conspiracies, these communities are endangered.
Read more: 5 ways to tackle evidence ignorance during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
In Force to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. says “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
And in the current era of “post-truth” politics, there are some very disturbing new developments in the generation of false “facts”, ignorance and stupidity.
When we study ignorance and stupidity together, we see how ignorance and stupidity work against a person’s own interests and how there can be fatal consequences.
Fatal consequences of ignorance
Take the example of the twice impeached and disgraced former President Donald Trump. His administration’s policy invoked potentially moral dimensions of ignorance, where ignorance in decision-making processes was an indication of choosing stupidity while avoiding responsibility.
Such avoidance of responsibility by the anti-vax and “freedom” rallies we have seen throughout this pandemic speaks similarly to Trumpist politics, as continued ignorance and denial quietly pushes us (or not so quietly) to new challenges, suffering and loss.
In both cases, the public attributions of stupidity are political, and the role of power here highlights the challenges of balancing ignorance with, and parallel to, an absence of knowledge.
Trucks and tractors are parked as a rally against COVID-19 restrictions continues in Ottawa on February 5. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle Ignorance and lack of knowledge
We know that pandemic public health measures work, but not complicit ignorance and denial of scientific evidence. But, has a failure to embrace critical thinking, or pretensions to extreme conservative ideologies, given comfort to people who want “happiness” in their lives? Regardless of the cost and sacrifice of others? Some would say so.
Read more: COVID-19 ‘freedom’ rallies actually undermine freedom – here’s why
In any case, when “for freedom” rallies incorporate conspiracies, Nazi symbols, and Confederate flags, it’s hard to see how someone’s rally represents freedom or is supported by knowledge.
If someone’s cause garners support from conspirators, Nazis, and other hate groups, it’s probably worth asking why. But I guess there’s a deep-seated, dehumanizing ideology at work here.
The study of ignorance highlights how certain groups of people are excluded from the moral and legal protections normally due to others. It has been a shocking revelation to some in recent years that human deception and self-deception have remained as intact as they have been.
Efforts to spread false “facts”, ignorance and stupidity have never been easier than today.
The potential of our “post-truth” era far exceeds what George Orwell could have dreamed of in his time. He presented a predictive, dystopian view in 1984, but even he could not have envisioned the agnosis we see today.
Our time of agnosis is increasingly coming into contact in ways beyond historical norms and recorded memory. Empathy, not apathy, is needed more than ever. My colleagues and I continue to explore agnosis, hoping to rescue critical thinking from obscurity.
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